At the recent Trees, People and Built Environment Conference, sponsored by TEP, Forest Research unveiled its survey into tree canopy cover in nearly 300 English towns and cities, together with recommendations about minimum tree canopy cover for a healthy environment. You can see how well treed your town is by clicking here.
The survey, in conjunction with social enterprise Treeconomics, reveals that the best treed town in Britain is Farnham with 45% tree cover and the worst is Fleetwood at 3.3% tree cover. Warrington, the New Town in which TEP was first established, has canopy cover of 16.8%. The research also shows a north/south divide with many southern towns tending to have much greater tree canopy cover than their northern equivalents. Coastal towns, perhaps unsurprisingly, have lower tree canopy cover, possibly because they are more exposed and usually have a dense urban fabric.
Tom Popplewell, TEP’s Principal Arborist comments ‘There is an overwhelming body of evidence that urban tree cover is associated with better social, economic and health outcomes. Increased proximity and access to mature trees and green space has been shown to improve retail footfall, property values, air quality and mental health. On the other hand, trees can also reduce noise pollution, energy consumption, social isolation and stress. Urban tree planting is an exceptionally cost effective means of delivering public benefits; this is not merely about an ideological greening of the city, it is about improving the lives of real people.’
Forestry Commission is suggesting that towns should set themselves a tree canopy cover target of 20% minimum, with coastal towns aiming for a minimum of 15% tree canopy cover. For towns that are already over 20% canopy cover, Forestry Commission is recommending that they aim for a 5% increase in cover to help ensure their existing tree stock against climatic shocks, pests and diseases and to maintain a good age structure for their urban tree population.
TEP was a headline sponsor of the conference, and the headline proceedings can be found here